Saturday March 14, 2009 - The Otago Central Rail Trail
A little after 8:30 I meet Mike at Altitude Adventures, we gear up, meet a couple from Boston and head out. He will drop us at a point on the trail called Ida Valley. It is 50k from this point back to Alexandra. The clouds are big and fluffy but gray and we are hoping they burn off as forecast. Right away I am glad I brought my windbreaker/rain jacket. In the wind it is just plain cold. We start off down the train trail and after a while I am ahead for the balance of the trip. Within a couple of klm I come upon the first of two tunnels. Our guide had assured us that all we had to do was wait for our eyes to get used to the lack of light and we would be o.k. So he says. I decide within 50 feet of entering the tunnel that I had better walk the bike through. A 100 yards or so later I am out of the tunnel and on my way to the next one which is three times as long and curved so there
is no way you can see. Fortunately at this point there is a small parade of souls coming the other direction with lights on their bikes. This area is the Poolburn Gorge. Shortly after this is the Manuherikia (easy for you to say!) Bridge, the second largest on the Trail. I take one look at the extremely uneven timbers that “pave” it and decide this is one to walk too. No sense in hitting a bump and propelling myself into the gorge. Of course just as I start onto the bridge a 10 year old girl comes bouncing up the other direction. I was a little relieved to see that her parents did walk it. From here on everything is a relative piece of cake. I stop at Lauder for a cup of coffee and chat with the owner, about 45, who had been in industrial sales and bought this place several years ago. Said he was fed up with corporate BS and has never regretted the decision. Back on the trail and on to Omakau, my next stop. The café here was definitely nothing special. I drank my L&P and was on my way. Good thing I brought along
Herd of "domesticated" deer. Excellent by the way. There are anti-vega bumper stickers here that say, "I love animals, I eat one every day."
half a dozen granola bars. I have covered 30K and am feeling good. The next 12k to Chatto Creek is the only section that has an uphill grade. It covers about the first half and then I am on a downhill grade. Oddly enough I have only seen three or four people going my direction. There are all kinds of people going the other way. I wonder to myself if they didn’t read the part of the brochure where it explains that they will be going up hill all the way. Maybe they want to get their moneys worth. I arrive at Chatto Creek Pub and decide since it’s five o’clock somewhere I should have a pint. They have a beautiful rose garden and it wasn’t too difficult just to sit here and laze in the sun for a while. I forgot to mention that the sun did come out back about Omakau. I only have 17k to go. The next 10K is through Galloway Flats which is hands down the least scenic section of the trail so I pick up the pace. The last 7k from Galloway to Alexandra is a little better scenery wise and I end up
finishing in about 5.5 hours counting the stops. I catch my breath, drop off the bike, get an ice cream cone and I’m headed east for St. Bathans, an old mining town just off the trail. A worthwhile diversion, I stop at the Vulcan Hotel (no, I did not see Mr. Spock!) and looked at an extremely blue lake that was left from the water blasting process they used to mine. For todays final leg I go to Nasby, the curling capital of NZ. This is Curling as in the sport we see only during the winter Olympics. Great holiday park here. Being Saturday night I go “downtown” for dinner at the Ancient Briton Hotel. It turns out to be the hot spot and everyone comes in dressed for the evening. Among the formal diners I lower the average age by fifteen years.
Tot: 0.24s; Tpl: 0.01s; cc: 15; qc: 47; dbt: 0.1043s; 1; m:apollo w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 2;
; mem: 6.4mb